I’m a woman and am going on a trip to Jordan.  Do I need to keep my head covered there and why?  Do other body parts have to stay covered too?

Out of respect for Jordan’s predominately Muslim culture, in which women keep most of their bodies covered because of exhortations to modesty in the Koran, travel authorities suggest dressing “conservatively” or “modestly.” Note well that Jordanian Muslim standards for what is conservative or modest might be different than what is considered acceptable in the west today. It is best to avoid revealing, provocative or flashy dress. The Jordan Tourism Board offers the following advice:

“Muslim women’s clothing often covers their arms, legs and hair. Western women are not subject to these customs, but very revealing clothing is never appropriate, and conservative dress is advisable for both men and women in downtown Amman and outside the cities. Shorts are rarely worn by either sex, and would be out of place in the downtown area. Topless sunbathing is prohibited and one-piece swimsuits are preferred, although two-piece swimsuits are acceptable at hotel pools.”

You don’t have to keep your head covered except when visiting religious sites, but avoid shorts, tight-fitting garments, low necklines, very short sleeves and midriff-baring combinations. When in doubt, it’s helpful to notice what local women are wearing, even though as a foreigner you will have a little more leeway. Pack comfortable, loose-fitting clothing – and have a lovely trip!